Women and children would be amongst the worse impacted by a downgrade of Portlaoise hospital, and doctors believe that centralisation will not work.
As a result of national controversy there has been a huge ongoing overhaul in maternity services. A downgrade will reverse this.
“In all, 1,606 babies were delivered at the unit last year. There is no capacity in the region or in units in Dublin to absorb these numbers in the event of a downgrade,” said the report in relation to the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
The doctors say Portlaoise hospital women's services is participating in Ireland's first managed clinical network with the Coombe hospital under the guidance of regional hospital management.
This has led to increased staff and more services.
“The first managed clinical network offers an alternative to centralisation of services.
“We recommend that this clinical network continues to be pursued. We recommend that this be extended to other clinical departments,” says the plan from the doctors.
Paediatrics in Portlaoise probably has the widest remit as it takes children from Laois, Offaly, Tipperary, Kildare and Carlow.
It is closely linked to maternity.
“The implications of downgrading Portlaoise hospital to a model 2 hospital will mean that safe acute paediatric services can no longer be provided or sustained. As a consequence there will be no maternity service,” they stated.
The doctors recommend that formal links with the National Paediatric Hospital Group continue to develop to allow shared care of sick children with complex medical problems, and to enable more of that care to be delivered locally.”
Doctors at the unit expect the appointment of consultants as part of the managed care network with the Coombe hospital in Dublin will strenghten and extend the level of care that could be delivered at Portlaoise hospital.
The doctors recommend that a paediatric emergency department be co-located with the adult A&E.
At present many children are admitted through the paediatric department.
They also want a paediatric assessment unit to manage children who require a short hospital stay.